On October 2, the Edmonton chapter of Abortion By Choice (ABC) held their annual general meeting at the University of Alberta’s Law Building, the location of Morgentaler’s press conference last year.

About 150 people attended, many of them young university women.  It was a larger turn-out than expected, as the lack of sufficient seating showed.  Equally unexpected was the presence of at least 10 members of pro-life groups, including almost all the executive of Campaign Life Alberta and the staff of the Pregnancy Crisis Centre, which is operated by the Co-workers for Human Life.  Also present was Sister Lucille Durocher of Human Life International’s Canadian office in Montreal.  Sister Lucille was making a visit to Western Canada.

The presence of so many pro-lifers seemed to fluster the organizers, who had a hasty consultation, whilst looking anxiously at the intruders.”  Perhaps as a result of this “enemy infiltration,” the business part of the meeting was rushed through with unseemly haste.  Parliamentary procedure was thrown to the winds, names of the new executive were mumbled and the financial report was glossed over with the single statement, “well, we’re still solvent.”  An appeal was made for Morgentaler’s increasing legal costs: his recent acquittal having just been set aside by the Ontario Court of Appeal.

Laughs and blasphemy

The next item on the agenda was the showing of Dr. Bernard Nathanson’s film, The Silent Scream. By now, most pro-life activists have seen this film several times, but to see it in the presence of the abortion-on-demand faction was a new experience.  To be with a group of well-educated people who laughed to see a baby in the womb being dismembered, whose only response to the shots of dead babies in garbage pails was the odd blasphemous exclamation, was to experience evil in a direct way.

The Silent Scream was followed by a film made by Planned Parenthood of Seattle in response to the pro-life film.  This hurriedly-produced piece of propaganda was almost laughable in its attempts to discredit Dr. Nathanson’s production.  This film rests its case on the following allegations:

  • Dr. Nathanson was holding a model that was too large to illustrate what was happening in the abortion sequence;
  • Some frames of the ultra-sound were slowed down to create a feeling of repose;
  • A change in technique half-way through the ultrasound sequence results in a fuzzy image that has to be interpreted by Dr. Nathanson;
  • Charges that the film was manipulative.

Nowhere in this inadequate response did Planned Parenthood deny (nor could they) that a human child was being killed.  Their best response was that the “fetus” didn’t appear (or have the ability) to object.  The unscientific phrase “potential life” was used several times: however, it does appear that the “blob of tissue” theory has disappeared.

Photograph the enemy

The audience applauded the Planned Parenthood Response to The Silent Scream and in the question period that followed effectively gave the lie to the rather sententious phrase used in the film, that “no woman wants an abortion.”  These women did – any time their being pregnant would interfere with their career goals, lifestyle, income or convenience.

This question period was enlivened by the constant questioning and interruptions from Gerard Liston, the director of Edmonton’s Emergency Pregnancy Service and executive member of Campaign Life Alberta.  The irrepressible Mr. Liston is referred to by the Abortion by Choice people as “our resident pro-lifer.”  Happily ignoring the insults and blasphemies hurled at him, Mr. Liston continued to challenge them on their own ground.  Those who stood to disagree with the ABC viewpoint had their photographs taken.

Sister Lucille Durocher stood to make a plea for intelligence and compassion, pointing out that even animals do not destroy their young.  She was not listened to.  The evening closed with wine and cheese but the pro-life delegation did not stay for that part of the programme.

It’s the Lord’s work

Two days later, some of these same pro-life workers attended a very different kind of function: a Birthright banquet, at which the founder, Mrs. Louise Summerhill, was the guest speaker.

Among the 400 people present were the Archbishop of Edmonton, his Grace Joseph MacNeil, the Hon. Gerry Amerongen, the speaker of the Legislative Assembly, and Mrs. Amerongen, Mrs. Ardris Beaudry, the national president of the Catholic Women’s League, and many other well-known figures.  A children’s choir from various churches sang songs of praise and other pieces.  Archbishop MacNeil asked a blessing on the food and on the work of Birthright.

Mrs. Summerhill spoke for about half an hour.  She spoke in a humble, matter-of-fact way as she told us the history of Birthright from its small beginnings to the immense organization it is today.  Again and again, she stressed how much she had to rely on prayer, and how much the organization was the work of God.  She said, “I used to pray that the Lord would help me with this work of mine, until one day I realized that it was the Lord’s work, and He was asking me to help Him.”

“God is with us.”  This expressed the whole theme of the Birthright banquet.  This is why Mrs. Summerhill, a mother of young children, who used to worry about her beds not being made, has founded an organization that has saved countless lives.  And this is why the pro-life movement will eventually win its battle against the death dealers – because God is with us.